American Family Children's Hospital

Pediatric Chest Wall Deformities Clinic

UW Health's Pediatric Chest Wall Deformities Clinic at American Family Children's Hospital offers comprehensive, individualized care for children with pectus carinatum and pectus excavatum, conditions that result in abnormally shaped chest walls.


Daniel Ostlie, MD, surgeon-in-chief at American Family Children's Hospital, professor of surgery at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, leads the Pediatric Chest Wall Deformities Clinic and works alongside a team of nurse practitioners and nurses to determine the best course of treatment for patients. Options include braces or surgery in severe cases. UW Health pediatric rehabilitation specialists also play an important role within the chest deformities team to provide a multidisciplinary approach to children's needs.


With pectus carinatum, a child's sternum and rib cartilage protrude from the chest. It is sometimes referred to as "pigeon chest" because the bowed-out chest can have an appearance similar to that of a bird's chest. Pectus carinatum occurs in approximately 1 in 1,500 children and is four times more common in boys than girls.


With pectus excavatum, the opposite of pectus carinatum occurs, as the breastbone and rib cartilage are formed in a way that makes the chest appear dented. This condition affects approximately one in 1,000 children and also is known as "sunken chest."


Our multidisciplinary approach to both of these conditions involves a physician, nurse practitioner and physical therapist.


In some cases of pectus carinatum, a custom-fitted compression brace can be used to push the chest wall back into its normal position. For children with mild pectus excavatum, common treatments include exercises aimed at improving posture and upper-body strength. In moderate to severe cases, a minimally invasive surgery can be performed.